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Avenue de France, trained by Leonard Powell, heads a wide open field of nine older fillies and mares in the Grade III, $100,000 Astra Stakes, to be contested at a marathon mile and on half on the turf at Santa Anita Park on Sunday, January 17.
An impressive first condition allowance winner from well off the pace at a mile and one eighth on turf December 26, French-bred Avenue de France will be making her first stakes start in what will be her seventh stateside start in the Astra.
A close third in two previous turf allowances on Nov. 26 and Oct. 31, 4-year-old Avenue de France has an improving form cycle and recency in her corner as she approaches the Astra with regular rider Drayden Van Dyke.
Race 7 at Santa Anita on Sunday, January 17 - Post 6:37 PM
|1||Avenue de France (FR)||6-1||Drayden Van Dyke
|2||Miss Addie Pray||15-1||Mike Smith
|3||Altea (FR)||3-1||Abel Cedillo
|4||Aunt Lubie||8-1||Victor Espinoza
|5||Hermaphrodite (FR)||6-1||Joel Rosario
|6||Lucky Peridot||15-1||Juan Hernandez
|7||Carpe Vinum||20-1||Jose Valdivia, Jr.
|8||Quick (GB)||5-2||Umberto Rispoli
|9||Ms Peintour||4-1||Flavien Prat
Unbeaten in a pair of mile turf races in her native France at age two, Avenue de France, who is owned by the Benowitz Family Trust, Convergence Stable, Madaket Stables, LLC, Wonder Stables and Mathilde Powell will be trying a mile and one half for the first time.
A fast finishing third in the Grade III Red Carpet Handicap at 1 3/8 miles over the Del Mar turf November 26, John Sadler's English-bred Quick may well go favored in the Astra as she seeks her first graded stakes victory. Off the board just once in eight stateside starts, this 5-year-old mare seems primed for another big effort at a distance she should handle well. Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, she'll be ridden for the third consecutive time by Umberto Rispoli.
French-bred Hermaphrodite, although winless in two stateside turf allowances for Sadler, was well supported on both occasions and retains the services of Joel Rosario following a close fifth place finish as the 2-1 favorite in the opening day allowance won by Avenue de France.
A mile and one half turf maiden winner in her third start at age three in France, Hermaphrodite was competitive in several other French races at distances ranging from a mile and one quarter to a mile and nine sixteenths on turf.
Owned by Hronis Racing, LLC, the 6-year-old bay mare is 14-1-4-1 overall as she seeks her first graded stakes win at a distance she should have no problem with.
Perhaps the biggest question mark in the race is last year's winner, Ms Peintour. Owned by Samantha Siegel's Jay Em Ess Stable, this 6-year-old mare by Paynter has been idle since finishing 10th and last in an ungraded stakes going 1 3/8 miles over the Del Mar turf on Aug. 16, which was her second start of the year.
Off at 13-1 in last year's Astra, Ms Peintour was attentive to the pace with Brice Blanc and drew off to an impressive two length score.
With the first time services of Flavien Prat and a respectable overall mark of 14-3-1-2, a lack of recency is the biggest concern for Ms Peintour as she faces eight rivals at a mile and one half off the bench.
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